Last month, a White House snitch leaked a draft of the president’s immigration bill to the press. Everyone, including me, wanted to know what was in it. First of all, I’ve got to say that this leak is, by far, the most pathetic leak in the history of leaks. The fact that the White House had an “Oh well, these things happen” response, instead of flipping out and firing everyone and every thing in the White House, makes me suspect that the leak was indeed intentional.
So what was the big deal about the leaked bill? The leaked bill was a big deal to me because it gave me a rough insight into what the final immigration bill might look like. There is a chance, a great chance that both the Senate and House immigration bills will look somewhat similar to the president’s.
According to Obama’s bill, we, the 11 million, will be called “Lawful Prospective Immigrants” (LPIs) once we come out of the so-called shadows and apply for a visa to stay in the U.S. I hate being called names but I must say “Lawful Prospective Immigrant” has a really sexy ring to it. It’s better than being called an “illegal,” whatever that means.
To become an LPI one would have to be in the US on the day the bill is passed. Also, he or she would need to be an upright non-citizen and not a criminal. If the president’s bill is passed (and I’m not holding my breath), everyone in removal proceedings, including me, will be eligible to become an LPI. Even if an undocumented immigrant was busted for ducking in and out of the border after being deported, they, too, would be in luck. According to the bill, they, too, could apply to become “Lawful Prospective Immigrants”.
As an LPI club member, I would be able to work legally and would finally be able to travel out of the country. The only stipulation would be that I wouldn’t be able to stay outside of the US for longer than six months. The LPI visa would have to be renewed after four years. If I had wives and children in my home country, my LPI status would allow me to start petitioning for all of them to come and join me in the land of burgers and Beyoncé. The downside to this bill is that LPIs would have to wait in the back of the line for 8 years to get a green card and an additional 5 years to become US citizens. That’s assuming that the government pulls up their socks and swiftly takes care of the green card backlog, which currently has over 4 million applicants.
The leaked bill also talked about the dreaded worker verification system commonly known as E-Verify. The draft proposes that companies would have to E-Verify all their new hires and current employees within four years. This, I’m sure, is sending chills down the spines of many employers as well as undocumented immigrants who have been working on the downlow for years. I suspect that many immigrants may lose their jobs and those that don’t may be viewed as untrustworthy, once their status is revealed. As much as this reform is going to be a relief to many (and trust me we really need to be reformed), there is a high chance that that it may also lead to job loss, damaged friendships and shattered lives.
In the end, those great activists and politicians who fought on our behalf will pass the ball to us and expect us not to drop it. It’s incumbent upon us immigrants to start thinking of how we’ll deal with the inevitable changes that will take place in our lives and communities, if the immigration bill is passed.